SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Demolition started Tuesday on the Gateway Inn, located at 819 W North Temple, which community members see as a step forward in reducing crime in the area.

Tuesday morning, you could see an excavator and other construction equipment beginning the demolition — one that many neighbors have been highly anticipating since the property was purchased in September. They shared with ABC4 that this was a much-needed change they’re excited to see.

They said that over the years, they’ve seen the Gateway Inn as a hotspot for crime.

“As a community, we’ve seen it as a nexus of crime in the area. Anywhere from murders to drug deals, lots of violence, robberies, theft, you name it, it’s happened at this motel,” said Nigel Swaby, the Fairpark Community Council Chair. “We’re really happy as a community that it’s finally being torn down.”

For the last several weeks, crews have worked to abate buildings, removing asbestos from the ceiling and other dangerous materials. Monday, neighbors were able to kick off the demolition by taking some licks with a sledgehammer to the building. They said it’s a step in the right direction for the community.

“North Temple is changing. This is not a place to come to for drugs anymore, not a place for prostitution, this is a new opportunity for the best part of west salt lake. It will be a new downtown area,” said Swaby.

SLCPD has given a statement regarding their intention to help the community: “Our officers will continue to engage with community members, business owners and other stakeholders to strategize ways to help reduce crime and increase the quality of life in the neighborhood.”

Going forward, Swaby said the spot where the Gateway Inn was will be used for businesses and much-needed housing. “We’ve lost a lot of businesses in the area, and with this new construction, we are hoping to get some of that back and maybe businesses we’ve never seen over here before,” he said.